The World as Seen, Heard, Experienced, Written

While much of the buzz of the last decade has been on the STEM fields—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—many universities and secondary schools have recently recognized that a more creative component to spur the innovation necessary to those same disciplines.  Hence, many have argued for an Arts and Design component to fill out the acronym, STEAM, thus integrating the philosophical and humanities elements traditional to higher education.  In this section of English 160–Academic Writing I: Writing in Academic and Public Contexts, students use the materials of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s composition program and its focus on genre and situation in order to explore the world of the arts, beginning with photography and increasing in writing involvement and critical scrutiny through the worlds of music and film before finally concluding in a work of literature spanning a few hundred pages, be it a novel, a play, a collection of short stories, a book of poems, or a set of essays.  Through these various lenses they examine both the status of these arts, what goes into evaluating them, and their relation both to the UIC campus, its history, and the world at large.

The assignment sequence below consists of four writing projects:

  • The World as Seen: Photo Essay
  • The World as Heard: Blog Post
  • The World as Experienced: Proposal
  • The World as Written: Argumentative Essay & Cover Letter



Feature image courtesy of
Teaching Assistant at University of Illinois at Chicago

Jay Yencich is a poet, essayist, and critic.  He received his MFA from the
University of Washington, where he was awarded the Academy of American
Poets Prize among other distinctions.  He presently holds a teaching
fellowship in the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Program for Writers
Ph.D, where he studies ecopoetics, 17th century verse, Anglo-Saxon
literature, and other odd topics that he draws connections between for


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